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How to spot fake mobile shopping apps made by scammers

Smartphone shopping app.

Smartphone shopping app. Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto / Bet_Noire

You’re not the only who loves those mobile shopping apps.

The crooks do too.

According to the FTC, scammers are perfecting the art of creating fake phone apps that look like those from big name retailers. Their goal is to get your vital digits, be it credit card or bank information.

Worse still, according to the FTC, they may install malware on your phone and have the audacity to demand money from you to unlock it.

Not to be a buzz kill for mobile shoppers, but truth is, you can’t be too careful. Here’s what to look for.

  • Beware of shared links

How did you get this app? If someone sent you a link, find it in the app store.

“See if it is one of the top shopping apps with millions of downloads. If so, it’s likely a trusted app. But if it has under 50,000 downloads and all 5-star reviews, it might be a fake, stay away,” says Alex Genadinikadinik, an app entrepreneur and business coach in Manhattan.

  • Deal or no deal?

“If you see offers that seem too good to be true, they usually are — Target doesn’t run 50 percent storewide offers, regardless of what any app says,” Robert Russo, CEO of The deals are designed to suck you in.

  • Think twice

When you don’t recognize the stores featured on the app, that’s another telltale sign it’s probably a fake.

The most common clue, according to the FTC, is misspellings and grammatical errors.


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